Clinton Skirted Questions in Philly Debate

I caught the last 90 minutes of the Democratic presidential debate at Drexel University Tuesday night, which told me that Hillary Clinton thinks she can win the nomination without telling anyone what she'll do if elected.

Crowd of Joe Biden supporters in Iowa, September 2007Clinton had a commanding demeanor throughout the night, despite taking shots from every other candidate except for Bill Richardson, who appeared to be running for vice president with one of his answers. "I'm hearing this holier than thou attitude towards Senator Clinton, and it's bothering me because it's pretty close to personal attacks," he said, referring to comments portraying her as untrustworthy. "We need to be positive in this campaign. ... it's important that we save the ammunition for the Republicans."

The format treated Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama as the only candidates worthy of attention, which is a crying shame. Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd bring impressive credentials to the race and deserve equal time. (Dennis Kucinich's answer to the UFO question would have ended his political career if he had one.)

I'm trying to like Clinton, but all night long her answers were studiously vague. When asked whether she supports New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to issue driver's licenses to people here illegally, she supported it -- saying the plan "makes a lot of sense" -- before she opposed it -- saying "I did not say that it should be done." When asked whether she supports Rep. Charles Rangel's tax plan to replace the alternative minimum tax, Clinton had to be pressed by moderator Tim Russert before acknowledging that she didn't support it. Even then, she fell back on the hoariest excuse in politics -- claiming more information is needed before she can decide the right approach. Telling people you're going to have a solution is not a solution.

Obama didn't do anything last night to show he's capable of defeating Clinton or will ever aggressively make the case against her. His kinder, gentler approach to politics and soft platitudes about turning the page won't fly in the general election. The Republicans have a formidable spin machine ready to take down the Democratic nominee. Nothing I've seen thus far suggests that Obama can handle it.

In what little time they were given, Biden and Dodd impressed me the most. I'd vote for Biden if the Florida primary was held today, because he's intelligent, mindful of what government can and can't accomplish after 35 years of public life, and is a foreign-policy realist who could get us out of Iraq. He's also engaging as hell and loves the process of bringing the public to your side, a quality sorely lacking in the Decider. Peggy Noonan lamented earlier this month that Democrats don't seem to be taking Biden's campaign seriously. I second that emotion.

Comments

When I heard about Kucinich's UFO response, I thought to myself, "Here is a man trying his hardest to give people a reason not to vote for him."

I think it should be Kucinich vs. Thompson in the general election, with the winner to be decided by a wrestling match between their wives.

Here's the thing. I'm into politics: I read DailyKos and many news sites daily, and I love reading all of the stories in The Economist about politics in other countries. But I just can't get into the debates. I haven't even watched any of them yet. They bore the pants off of me. I don't know if it's the format or the rehearsed answers or what, but I don't see anything useful in them. Much better to simply read political analysis online, I think.

which told me that Hillary Clinton thinks she can win the nomination without telling anyone what she'll do if elected.

I'm confused, Rogers. This is the strategy that won the Democrats the Congress last year. Why do you feel it wouldn't work for them in the Presidential election?

I think it should be Kucinich vs. Thompson in the general election, with the winner to be decided by a wrestling match between their wives.

Fuck the wrestling match.

Let them have at it in the old highland manner.

Barebreasted with a baby in one hand and a skillet in the other.

The PPV rights alone might help clear up the national debt.

Be Well.

Add a Comment

These HTML tags are permitted: <p>, <b>, <i>, <a>, and <blockquote>. A comment may not include more than three links. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA (for which the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply).